Introducing new ways to interact with apps

Improvements that make working in Slack — and using apps — easier for everyone

Slack API
Slack API
Mar 18, 2020 · 4 min read
Illustration and design by Casey Labatt-Simon.

Slack now offers a simpler, more organized experience for users — whether you’re a power user or just starting on Slack, working remotely or in an office. These improvements also make it easier for the 12 million people who use Slack everyday to discover, understand, and use apps.

The average paid user spends more than nine hours each workday connected to Slack, with nearly 90 minutes of active use. Apps built by our community of 700,000 developers drive a lot of that engagement — helping users unlock productivity by accessing key information and tools in Slack, where their team is already collaborating.

With the average enterprise using more than 1,000 cloud services, it’s invaluable to put everyday tools right at a user’s fingertips. Here’s how we’re making it simpler to do that, right from Slack:

  • A shortcuts button for users to swiftly take action with a Slack app
  • A dedicated place for users to discover and launch apps right from Slack
  • A way to organize channels, direct messages — and apps — into sections in the sidebar

Introducing shortcuts

Shortcuts are simple, visual ways to take action with apps from anywhere in Slack. Users can quickly access shortcuts in a new lightning bolt icon next to the message input field.

Users can access the shortcuts button wherever they can send a message—making apps easily accessible from virtually anywhere in Slack.

For some users, slash commands are a secret superpower that can unlock immense productivity in Slack. However, only a fraction of users discover this magic. While slash commands continue to be a speedy way for experienced users to engage with apps, shortcuts make apps more discoverable and intuitive for anyone to use.

Shortcuts increase visibility so users are more likely to discover your app.
Slack research

A more intuitive app experience

Apps with shortcuts are also more predictable, especially when coupled with modals — windows that allow an app to collect details from users or display dynamic information. For instance, Simple Poll, a polling app on Slack, uses multi-step modals to comfortably guide users through creating a poll.

Simple Poll uses a confirmation modal to let users preview the poll before posting it in a channel.

“With shortcuts, we’re excited for Simple Poll to offer an omnipresent, straightforward, and fundamentally simple way to create polls in Slack,” said Simple Poll founder, Wilhelm Klopp.

“We expect shortcuts to substantially contribute to Simple Poll usage, especially from users who felt less comfortable with slash commands or didn’t even know Simple Poll existed.”

Improving app discovery

Apps will also have a more prominent place in Slack — so once your app’s installed, it’s easier to drive adoption across the workspace.

Many users said an app wasn’t used in their workspace simply because people didn’t know it was installed.
Source: Slack research

Slack’s refreshed interface introduces a customizable sidebar so users can access their preferred conversations and information — including a dedicated page for apps. This gives users a single destination to browse for apps already installed in the workspace, discover new apps, or open apps they recently used.

The experience is especially powerful for apps with a home tab — users are seamlessly brought into an interactive space to find information or take action.

Install an app once — and voilà! It appears under Apps for the rest of the workspace to discover.

With this new experience, users on paid plans will also be able to organize their channels, direct messages, and apps into personalized sections within the sidebar. For example, an app like Jira or Asana can be placed in a projects section, so it’s easier to stay on top of issues and tasks.

Once your app is organized in a section, it will remain in the sidebar—all the
more reason to build a
home tab for your app.

Getting started

Today starts our rollout of the new Slack experience on desktop, followed shortly by an updated experience on mobile. Shortcuts is now available in open beta—get started building a shortcut today by reading documentation on Slack API.

Shortcuts round out the Slack app toolkit — the happy path for building best-in-class apps in Slack. Coupled with granular permissions and a home tab, you’ll be well on your way to building secure, engaging apps that transform the way people work.

We can’t wait to see what you build!

The survey results cited are from a July 2019 survey that we conducted of approximately 1,700 U.S.-based users who had been using Slack for at least six months and used at least two of our most popular apps in the two weeks prior to the survey. Our top apps include apps developed by Slack, our partners, or other third-party developers.

Questions? Email or tweet @SlackAPI.

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